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Congress Doesn’t Fit Into Narrative We Want to Build Against BJP, Says SP

A senior leader of the Samajwadi Party said the issues with Congress are not personal but purely political.

Pranshu Mishra |

Updated:June 18, 2018, 7:37 PM IST
Lucknow: As the race for the 2019 general election intensifies, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP) is not keen on allying with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.

SP sources have now confirmed to News18 that they are not willing to take the Congress on board in UP since the latter does not fit into the political narrative that the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) want to build together against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The SP, like in the past, will not field a candidate against the Congress in Raibareli and Amethi. While Amethi is the constituency of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is MP from Raibareli.

Talking to News18, a senior leader of the Samajwadi Party said, “It’s not like we have personal issues with the Congress leadership. Our reservations with the Congress are purely political.”

When asked to explain the reservations, the senior leader said, “Congress doesn’t fit into the political narrative we want to build against the BJP. The political narrative of Dalits, Muslims and Backwards against the upper caste-dominated BJP is the political attack line of 85 percent vs 15 percent that we will employ.”

The development comes just days after the SP skipped the Iftar party hosted by Rahul Gandhi.

Unease with the Congress also set in following the experiences of the 2017 assembly election, when the SP’s alliance with the grand old party suffered a humiliating defeat.

The SP feels giving its ally over 100 seats was a mistake as its core voters, especially the Yadavs and other backward castes, did not vote for the Congress.

The post-defeat analysis further strengthened the perception within the SP leadership that the limited appeal and presence of the Congress in UP was restricted to the upper castes and thus, taking the party on board for 2019 could be counter-productive.

However, the power play comes with a rider — the stand taken by the BSP.

Though BSP chief Mayawati has kept her cards close to her chest with respect to the alliance, sources say she is not in the mood to be hostile to the Congress.

On May 26, the party officially said it’s “open to alliances in upcoming state elections as well as beyond that if such alliances are respectable ones”.

Political observers see this as the BSP’s willingness to work with the Congress ahead of the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Sources said Mayawati, who has her eyes set on a larger role in national politics post the 2019 polls, wants to keep the grand old party in good humour.

The question that then arises is if the BSP will be benevolent to the Congress in UP and prefer a Dalit-Muslim consolidation or share the opinion of the Samajwadi Party.

A lot depends on the alliances and their subsequent performance in the Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan polls.

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